Fewer Companies in Malaysia Implement D&I Policies Despite Growing Diversity Awareness

The increasing implementation of diversity and inclusion (D&I) practices by employers in Malaysia has not produced results due to the lack of adherence to policies and reduced numbers in women in management. This is one of the key findings in the Hays Asia Salary Guide 2019, a report that highlights salary and recruiting trends based on responses from Hays Asia operating markets Mainland China, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, and Singapore.

The report reveals that more companies in Malaysia (54 per cent in 2018 vs 49 per cent in 2019) have not been putting diversity policies into place. To add, the number of employers stating that these policies are ‘well adhered to’ has fallen from 22 per cent in 2018 to 14 per cent in 2019.

“As the diversity of a company is known to translate to greater creativity and innovation, it is alarming that fewer companies are putting more policies in place,” says Tom Osborne, Managing Director of Hays Malaysia. “Adding to the concern is that adherence to policies is falling, and it is essential that employers look into tactics that ensure that their policies are not only implemented, but also followed.”

Overseas Hires and Gender Diversity

Malaysia has seen a marginal increase of overseas candidates employed in its companies, from 10 per cent in 2018 to 13 per cent in 2019. To add, in skill-short areas, close to half (49 per cent) of employers would consider employing or sponsoring a qualified overseas or expatriate candidate.

By contrast, the country is seeing a slight decline of the percentage of women in management positions. While employers in the recent survey say that women make up 35 per cent their leadership teams, this number is down slightly from 38 per cent in 2018.

Flexible Options

Most employers in Malaysia are providing a myriad of flexible working options. Informal flexible working at an employees’ line manager's discretion (voted by 29 per cent) is the most common option provided by employers, followed by flexi-time –– in which they are able to change work hours outside of "core" business periods –– (voted by 28 per cent), and home or remote working (voted by 25 per cent).
Correspondingly, employees are taking advantage of the options available to them with one in five of them (23 per cent) making use of the home or remote working option, while 19 per cent opt for informal flexible working and 18 per cent for and flexi-time.

“While flexible working practices can be enjoyed by all staff, regardless of gender, the ability to work from home and flexible working hours are particularly advantageous for working mothers, enabling them to balance family obligations with their careers,” comments Tom.

“By extending these options further, employers can see even greater improvement in diversity operating in the upper echelons of organisations, thus enhancing innovation, improving staff retention and attraction rates, as well as encouraging new role models for the next generation of a diverse profile of managers.”

Comparing with Asia

According to the 2019 Hays Asia Salary Guide, slightly more than half (52 per cent) of Asian companies currently implement diversity policies, a marginal rise from 2018 (51 per cent). Singaporean companies are most likely to have such practices in place with the highest number of companies (57 per cent) saying that they had no such policies coming from Hong Kong (34 per cent). In addition, 56 per cent of Japanese companies, 49 per cent of Malaysian companies and 47 per cent of companies in Mainland China claim to implement diversity policies.

Employers in Asia have noted a decline in the adherence to diversity practices, with those saying that they are adhered to ‘well’ falling from 22 per cent in 2018 to 15 per cent in 2019. Companies in Japan see the greatest level of adherence with a combined 59 per cent saying policies were adhered to either ‘well’ or ‘fairly well’. Only 43 per cent of employers in Mainland China could say the same.

Conversely, these positions are reversed, where China and Malaysia have 35 per cent and Japan just 19 per cent of women holding managerial positions. Companies in Hong Kong saw a rise of women in management in 2019 with 33 per cent up from 29 per cent the year before, while companies in Singapore fell one point to 29 per cent.

The proportion of foreign employees rose overall across Asia from 13 to 15 per cent in 2019. These statistics are somewhat skewed by Singapore’s increase from 19 to 28 per cent and Hong Kong rising from 14 to 18 per cent. One in ten (13 per cent) Malaysian companies are from overseas, while the proportion of foreigners in companies in Japan and Mainland China both fell to ten per cent from 13 per cent and six per cent from ten per cent, respectively.

Despite the fall in the number of foreign employees operating in Japan and Mainland China, the proportion of companies stating they would consider oversees candidates for skills-short positions increased. For instance, 67 per cent of employers in Mainland China and 65 per cent in Japan would do so. Furthermore, almost half (49 per cent) of employers in Malaysia would also employ overseas staff, while companies in Hong Kong (44 per cent) and Singapore (35 per cent) saw a greater proportion saying that they would not consider hiring from abroad.

Get your copy of the 2019 Hays Asia Salary Guide by visiting hays.com.my or by contacting your local Hays office.

Last updated on March 26th, 2019